Beer kegs stand in the courtyard outside a closed pub in London, the UK, January 15 2021. Picture: CHRIS RATCLIFF/BLOOMBERG
Beer kegs stand in the courtyard outside a closed pub in London, the UK, January 15 2021. Picture: CHRIS RATCLIFF/BLOOMBERG

London —  British pubs group JD Wetherspoon plans to raise up to £94m in its second cash call from investors since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the government's latest order to close hospitality venues hammers its finances.

While mass vaccination started across Britain towards the end of 2020, stay-at-home orders since Christmas — which followed some local curbs in the run-up to the holidays — crushed any hopes of a quick rebound in the sector.

Budget-focused Wetherspoons, which said it was burning through about £4.1m per week in the lockdown, said it planned to raise up to £93.7m in a sale of new shares.

It plans to place 8.4-million shares at between £11  and £11.20 apiece, a discount to Tuesday's close of £11.8.

The placing is not being underwritten, the company said in a statement after markets closed.

“The Covid‐19 outbreak is having a severe impact on the UK pub sector. After a number of false starts, the hospitality industry generally anticipates a return to more normal trading patterns in the spring and summer,” chair Tim Martin said.

He has been an outspoken critic of the government's handling of the crisis and, like his counterparts at rivals including Mitchells & Butlers and Marston's, has called for greater support for the sector.

Wetherspoons raised £141m in April 2020 during Britain's first lockdown.

Reuters

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